How to drink Champagne like a French girl

“Champagne is like an artistic collaboration between us and the earth.”

That’s how Hervé Deschamps, Perrier-Jouët’s Cellar Master, describes his philosophy on everyone’s favorite bubbles. “You don’t control nature,” he says, “but you can respect it and study it, and eventually, create with it.”

During a Design Miami fete, in a tiny cavern stacked top-to-bottom with Perrier-Jouët (complete with a Design Miami installation by Luftwerk and a performance by Ellie Goulding), Deschamps offered up his best tips for optimal sips.

25% of all yearly champagne sales happen between Christmas and December 30th, and over 750k bottles are corked on New Year’s Eve. With those odds, it’s likely most of us will raise a glass (or two… or four…) as we party our way into 2018. Shouldn’t we know what we’re drinking—and how to best enjoy it? Mais oui.

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Use Brut force

Brut is the driest, least sweet, and most common of all champagnes—but that doesn’t mean it’s boring. “What makes a brut unique is the balance of alcohol and acid,” Deschamps explains, using Perrier-Jouët’s  Belle Epoque 2011 as his example. A pale yellow drink with hints of green, this Brut has notes of peach, pear, and grapefruit, along with a long aftertaste and a tiny tinge of salt. (Other bruts boast notes of vanilla, bread dough, and even chalk.) According to Deschamps, the best bruts are like laser-cut leather jackets—“cool and delicate”—and they’ll taste both refreshing and a little bit sharp. But if you want its aromas at peak performance, patience is key: bruts take around five years to fully develop.

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Raise a (real) glass

Wonder Woman has her cuffs. Batman has his car. And your champagne can’t activate its sensory superpowers without the right glass, which should be shaped somewhat like a tulip. “The bubbles of champagne push the scents up,” Deschamps explains, “and the glass helps open up the aromas, and helps [balance] the acidity.” Specialty champagne glasses or even wine glasses are great, but your bottle won’t taste nearly as complex and exciting in a paper cup, a mug, or (ahem) a water bottle. Look, we’ve all been there—but now that we know better, let’s make the effort.

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Drink pink responsibly

Every rose has its thorn, and every rosé has its surprise—especially if Deschamps is involved. “I like pink champagne that is beautiful and delicate, certainly, but also complex and a little unexpected.” For his Belle Epoque Rosé 2006, he made a drink that smells like florals and strawberries, “but not like when you mash them [up] and they’re sweet.” Instead, he used the slightly sharper, earthier scent that comes from ripening fruit on vines, and made the color a salmon pink with shades of orange and copper. (Yes, it matches your Millennial Pink peacoat from Mansur Gavriel.)

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Curb your bottle enthusiasm

Repeat after Monsieur Deschamps: “Do not shake the champagne!” It disturbs the balance of flavors, it can get really messy, and a simple firm twist of the cork results in the same satisfying “pop!” sound. It’s also a bad idea to guzzle from the bottle, since the bubbles inside won’t have had a chance to froth out—and a rush of cold fizz could be harsh on your throat.

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Order the burger

Yes, champagne is gorgeous with brie, caviar, and lobster. But because of its light, crisp notes, it’s also fantastic with comfort foods like burgers, fries, risotto, fried chicken, or even mac + cheese. “I enjoy it with spicy food, like a saffron and ginger sauce,” says Deschamps, before suggesting another pairing for Belle Epoque Rosé: chocolate fondant and cake. If that’s not enough to sell you, consider this: even Beyoncé put the burger-and-champagne combo on her Instagram…


Up cycle, but make it fashion

Don’t say au revoir to your champagne bottle once it’s empty—upcycle like a Parisian and use it as a vase, a candle holder, a still life model, an olive oil tankard, or even a light fixture. For an Art Nouveau flair, try a Perrier-Jouët bottle with the famous anemone flowers by the French artist and glassblower Emile Gallé. First introduced in 1902, the curvy blossoms got hip in 1969 after jazz legend Duke Ellington received a bottle of Belle Epoque for his birthday. (Ellington got name-checked on the runways this season, too, as he inspired Erdem’s latest London collection.) Give your bottle a quick rinse, choose its new function, and say “cheers” to a sustainable piece of super-cute décor.



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